Northern Ireland is reaching a key demographic milestone this year: children born just before or after the April 1998 Good Friday Agreement are reaching adulthood. They’re turning 18.
The Irish Times has interviewed 10 of these young people “about their lives, attitudes and expectations.” The BBC did a similar piece at the 15th anniversary of the peace accord in 2013.
Just under 25,000 people in Northern Ireland turn 18 this year, or 1.3 percent of the 1.86 million living in the six counties, according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. The largest age cohort are 51, born in 1964-1965, or just before the Troubles. Nearly 27,000, or 1.4 percent, are in this group.
Here are a few select quotes from young people interviewed by the Times:
It’s like one step forward, two steps back. The DUP and Sinn Féin refuse to set aside their differences, and that’s something that annoys me every day. There would be so much more progress if they would really work together properly.
The people here are the best in the world. They’re so friendly they’ll just sit down beside you, when you’re on the train or whatever, and have a random conversation with you. You don’t get that anywhere else.
The trouble here is that some people still think the history is the present. They’re so caught up in the past. … The past isn’t irrelevant, no way. It’s still history. It’s important to learn about the terrible events that happened.
The best thing about Belfast is seeing it move on. Twenty or 30 years ago you would still worry about where you could go, who you could see. I’m part of this change. I can go where I want. I both hate the place and love it – but I’m changing it right now by going down that street.